Cubs

No guarantee: Cubs, Coleman surviving auditions

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No guarantee: Cubs, Coleman surviving auditions

Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010
10:33 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MIAMI Watching the Cubs each day is an exercise in trying to figure out what it all means for 2011 and beyond, the rookies absorbing the experience and the veterans playing for their next contract.

This week chairman Tom Ricketts outlined some of the qualities hes looking for in a manager during a panel discussion hosted by WSCR-AM 670. Its someone who will teach fundamentals and can handle whats expected to be a relatively younger roster.

And new ownership which is still trying to wrap its arms around what it purchased almost 11 months ago thinks that man should know the culture hes getting into.

Mike Quade grew up in Mount Prospect, which hasnt helped his ticket bills, and is nearing the end of his eighth season in the organization. But hes only guaranteed 14 more games.

You come into the situation believing that what you do and how you approach people is going to work, Quade said. You believe that until the day it doesnt. And if you let the 103 years get in the middle of that thought process, youre probably going to wind up not being around very long.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly who managed the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001 will get an interview, though the perception is that he isnt a leading candidate.

The Cubs (67-81) continued scouting their own personnel during Saturdays 5-3 victory over the Florida Marlins in front of 28,716 fans at Sun Life Stadium. They are now 16-7 since Quade took over and have won a season-high five consecutive games.

The crowd included approximately 75 friends and family members connected to Casey Coleman, who grew up in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area along Floridas Gulf Coast. The 23-year-old rookie right-hander navigated his way through six-plus innings against the Marlins (73-74), allowing three runs on five hits.

Coleman, the games first third-generation big-league pitcher, said he wasnt sure if his father was in attendance on Saturday night. Joe, an instructor in the Detroit Tigers system, gets nervous whenever his son pitches. Coleman thought his father might have stayed home and watched on television.

Coleman has created some anxious moments he walked four Marlins but the Cubs like how hes able to minimize the damage. Hes also regarded as athletic player able to do the little things, like field his position, lay down a bunt and run the bases.

Hes made a wonderful impression on all of us, Quade said. Hes made the most out of his opportunity.

Coleman, however, isnt guaranteed another start, because the Cubs are bringing along Tom Gorzelanny and waiting to make a decision on Carlos Silva. Coleman has accounted for at least six innings in five straight starts. During that stretch, hes 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA, forcing the Cubs to at least think about where he fits into next years plan.

You just got to trust your stuff, Coleman said. The first impression is like: Oh my gosh these guys are awesome hitters. And I kind of shied away from throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys, just trusting it.

The lineup card from Quades first game as manager on Aug. 23 shows Coleman as the winning pitcher that night in Washington. It also marked Colemans first victory in the majors.

Maybe they will be tied together for years to come, or perhaps Quade will use this as a springboard for another job somewhere else, and Coleman will find himself back on the Triple-A level. It could mean everything or nothing, depending on which direction management turns next.

Ill think about that in a few weeks, Coleman said. Whatever happens in the offseason, you know theres going to be a lot of things going on. Itll be a busy offseason for the team. You just want to take it day-by-day and hopefully set yourself up for a job next season.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why Cubs should make Jim Hickey an offer he can't refuse

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USA TODAY

Why Cubs should make Jim Hickey an offer he can't refuse

Monday’s interview with Jim Hickey in Chicago — roughly 72 hours after the Cubs fired pitching coach Chris Bosio and within a week of manager Joe Maddon saying “of course” he wanted his entire staff back — is a first step in the reboot at Wrigley Field.

Maddon would probably like to have that answer back, knowing he could have softened the language with corporate speak and created some wiggle room in the middle of a National League Championship Series where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game.

But Hickey, the former Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach, is a familiar face and an expert voice at a time when Maddon’s honeymoon period appears to be over, repeatedly first- and second-guessed about his decisions, from the World Series Game 7 the Cubs won last year through a frustrating 43-45 start to this season and deep into another playoff run.

That staff is already in flux, with bench coach Dave Martinez scheduled to interview with the Washington Nationals for Dusty Baker’s old job and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske now leaving to take a lead role with the Los Angeles Angels hitters.

Here’s why the Cubs will probably have to make Hickey an offer he can’t refuse:

— A rival scout noticed how often Maddon looked like a solitary figure in the dugout, standing there looking down at his lineup card. Whatever friction Maddon felt with Bosio — a big presence who pitched 11 seasons in the big leagues and isn’t afraid to tell you exactly what he thinks — Hickey is someone the manager trusts after their eight seasons together with the Rays.

Maddon insisted he wasn’t maneuvering behind the scenes when he reached out after Hickey surprisingly parted ways with Tampa Bay in October, but it still showed the depth of their relationship: “I called him to console a friend.”

— While working for the Boston Red Sox, Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer got an up-close look at what Hickey did in the American League East, helping build the small-market contender that advanced to the 2008 World Series, the beginning of five seasons with at least 90 wins in six years.

Between his time with the Rays and Houston Astros, look at the All-Star pitchers Hickey has worked with: Chris Archer, David Price, Alex Colome, Brad Boxberger, Matt Moore, Fernando Rodney, James Shields, Rafael Soriano, Scott Kazmir, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge and Roger Clemens.

— Hickey can also offer unique insight into Alex Cobb, a free agent the Cubs will have to do more background work on as they try to replace 40 percent of their rotation. Cobb — who went 48-35 with a 3.50 ERA in 115 career starts for the Rays — just turned 30 and has only 700 innings on his major-league odometer after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in the middle of the 2015 season.

“He has a talent that most organizations search for relentlessly,” Cobb told the Tampa Bay Times after Hickey left the Rays with a year remaining on his contract. “He will have a great time being a free agent.

“I’m not going to try to explain how great Jim Hickey is. There’s really nothing I can say that would speak louder than his track record. All I can say is how fortunate I was to have him when I got to the big leagues. No one could have prepared me better.”

— Beyond the connection to Maddon, Hickey is someone who knows Chicago after growing up on the South Side, and that hometown draw will probably matter at a time when the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are among several marquee teams in the market for a new pitching coach that now might be thinking: "Better Call Boz."

In latest twist to Cubs-Nationals, Dave Martinez will interview for Dusty Baker's old job

In latest twist to Cubs-Nationals, Dave Martinez will interview for Dusty Baker's old job

Dave Martinez – Joe Maddon’s bench coach during unprecedented runs of success with the Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays – is ready to step outside of the star manager’s shadow and run his own big-league team.

A Washington Nationals franchise coming off back-to-back division titles – while having some big personalities in the clubhouse and obvious internal issues – could still be that ideal opportunity.

The Nationals have reached out to set up an interview with Martinez, a source said Monday, confirming a Washington Post report in the wake of Dusty Baker’s messy exit, eight days after a massively disappointing playoff loss to the Cubs.

Martinez had been an X-factor in Washington’s search two years ago, when negotiations broke down with Bud Black and the Nationals eventually circled back to Baker, the former Cubs manager.

Martinez has the built-in credibility that comes from playing 16 seasons in the big leagues, which would be an asset for a team that has Bryce Harper entering his final season before free agency and Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top of the rotation.    

Martinez, who is fluent in Spanish and analytics, spent the last 10 years working as the bench coach for two data-driven organizations, putting him at the cutting edge of defensive shifts, bullpen management and game-planning systems.    

While Maddon thrives in the front-facing aspects of the job, dealing with the media before and after every game and selling a vision to the public, Martinez handles a lot of the behind-the-scenes issues, putting out clubhouse fires and interacting with the players in one-on-one settings.

The partnership worked to the point where the Rays captured the 2008 American League pennant and the Cubs won last year’s World Series. While the Cubs have advanced to the National League Championship Series for three straight seasons, the Nationals have been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs four times since 2012.

In the middle of the grueling five-game playoff series where the Cubs outlasted the Nationals – which may have been a tipping point against Baker for Washington executives – Maddon lobbied for Martinez to be in the manager mix during baseball’s hiring-and-firing season.

“He belongs in the group,” Maddon said. “I know all these people being considered, and I promise you our guy matches up with every one of them.

“He was such a heady, aggressive, gritty kind of player. Bilingual. All that matters. He's not afraid to have the tough conversations (that) people in that position may shy away from.

“Believe me, I see all the names. There are a lot of good names, and I like a lot of these dudes. But I’m just telling you: To not include his name with those other people baffles me.”